Rockley Photonics demonstrates in-package optics platform to select partners

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Rockley Photonics has developed what it says is the world’s first single-chip L3 routing switch to directly integrate 100G network ports using single-mode fibre, and is now demonstrating its in-package optics platform to select customers and development partners.

Leveraging the company’s OpticsDirect technology, the platform integrates high-speed optical interconnect with high-scale CMOS digital and mixed-signal circuits. The switching ASIC employs unique low-power custom circuitry to interface with Rockley-developed photonic chips. Advanced technology for fibre-optic assembly delivers lower power than conventional ASICs that use electrical IO and external optical transceiver modules. By driving optical fibre directly from the package, the Rockley product can directly connect to devices placed 500 meters away.

The platform combines established assembly processes with new technologies to deliver a solution that is designed to be advanced, yet suitable for high-scale manufacturing. The product employs an L3 routing ASIC designed by the company and silicon photonics chips manufactured on a Rockley proprietary process. The switch ASIC and silicon photonics ICs are placed into a customised package, enabling fibre-optic links to connect directly into the assembly. Mixed-signal circuit designs enable the photonics ICs to be driven directly by the ASIC without additional chips. The Rockley solution was developed in cooperation with a number of industry partners to be suitable for rapid transition to manufacturing scale.

Dr Andrew Rickman, founder and CEO of Rockley Photonics commented: ‘We are pleased and excited to deliver this important new platform which will usher in the modern era of integrated optics.’

The demonstration involves multiple ports of 100G directly connected using single mode fibre with 25G optical modulation. The integrated single-chip switch provides Ethernet MAC capability, plus packet processing, packet buffering, and L3 routing between ports. The platform exhibits low power consumption, with direct fibre-optic interconnect for further power savings in order to reduces data centre capital expenditure, operational expenditure and total cost of ownership. In addition, the demonstration leverages a Rockley-designed ASIC, but can enable any customer ASIC platform to become ‘optics enabled’. The company plans to partner with third-party developers of digital ASICs to develop all-optical product designs.

‘By eliminating all electrical interconnect and driving the optics directly from the ASIC, Rockley has achieved unprecedented low power levels,’ said Amit Nagra, chief operating officer at Rockley Photonics. ‘In fact, we estimate the switch, with optics, consumes less power per 100G port than a typical optical transceiver.’

Added chief commercial officer, Nick Kucharewski: ‘As modern communication systems demand higher speed interconnect, the industry will increasingly look to optics to drive new product innovations. The Rockley OpticsDirect system enables any developer of digital ASICs to migrate their designs to directly-connected optics, to eliminate the bottlenecks on power consumption and physical reach common with electrical interconnects.’

Rockley Photonics raised $40 million in its most recent round of funding to expand its platform, taking the total raised since its launch to $100 million (see Rockley Photonics raises $40 million funding for platform expansion).

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